Tebow-Mania Hits New York

Tim Tebow is a Jet. If Lin-Sanity hadn’t already been elbowed toward the door by the Knicks themselves, the arrival of Tebow-Mania today would have shoved it all the way out the door.

The Jets have acquired the celebrated quarterback and a seventh-round pick from the Broncos for  fourth and sixth-round draft selections. Tebow-Mania and Lin-Sanity in the same market. Unbelievable. On several levels.

Both phenomena – and don’t kid yourself, Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin of the Knicks attained a level of celebrity status that few others have even sniffed, at least for the briefest of times in Lin’s case – have lost a lot of steam lately. Tebow’s Broncos were crushed in their last playoff game and he lost his job when Manning chose Denver; Lin maintains his starting job, but his game has been downsized since coach Mike D’Antoni was replaced by Mike Woodson.

Still, there’s still plenty lurking just under the surface, waiting for the perfect opportunity to reassert itself. For Tebow-Mania, that opportunity is here.

This move by the Jets is more about creating buzz than it is about winning football games. A fourth-round pick could have contributed to more victories on the field this year and in the future, but I dare anyone to find a fourth-round pick who will sell more jerseys and tickets or get a team more face-time than Tebow.

Even as a backup quarterback. Think about that. I know Mark Sanchez has.

The biggest story in the NFL today was the league’s punishment of the New Orleans Saints following the bounty-gate scandal. Sean Payton, a Super Bowl winning coach who knew and lied about the bounties placed on opposing players, was suspended for the entire season. Greg Williams, the architect of the scheme who moved to the Rams in the offseason, has been suspended indefinitely. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for the first eight games next season. The franchise lost a couple of second-round draft picks and was fined half a million dollars.

But all anyone in New York wants to talk about today is Tebow to the Jets. It’s called Tebow-Mania. Pace yourself, football fans.

The move is just the latest domino to fall in the aftermath of Peyton Manning’s free agency, courting and eventual signing in Denver.

When the Redskins found out they were not in the running to acquire Manning’s services, they threw all those draft choices at the Rams for the right to draft Robert Griffin III.

That will take place just after the Colts draft Andrew Luck of Stanford, the very first domino to fall in this game.

The second-most talked about free agent quarterback this offseason, Matt Flynn, appeared to be ready to join his offensive coordinator, new Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, in Miami. But by the time the Dolphins had recovered from their disappointment in losing the Manning sweepstakes, Flynn was well on his way to signing with the Seahawks.

The 49ers, as one of the finalists in the Manning sweepstakes, nearly lost their own free agent quarterback, Alex Smith, in the process. Smith flirted with the idea of going to Miami, but now it appears that Smith has agreed to a new deal in San Francisco.

Matt Hasselbeck had to hold his breath as the Titans’ owner made a late push to grab the top prize, telling everyone who would listen that Manning was the man he wanted. And Matt Schaub had to have some uneasy moments when it was rumored that Manning preferred the idea of joining the Texans, but the feeling – fortunately for Schaub – wasn’t mutual.

The Jets have had a couple of dominoes in this game, too. First, after being politely informed that New York was not on Manning’s radar, the Jets gave Sanchez a new deal while professing their face in their franchise quarterback. But once it became apparent that Tebow would be traded, the Jets jumped right in and did nothing if not apply the heat to Sanchez.

How long will it take for a loud segment of Jets fans to call for Tebow to replace Sanchez. The cynic in me thinks maybe the idea is to play Sanchez for three quarters, then replace him with Tebow for the fourth quarter. He does seem to have a knack for late-game heroics.

More likely is that the Jets will design a set or two of plays for Tebow to run, perhaps near the goal line. But who knows what the Jets are thinking these days?

In the end, Tebow’s a Jet in the marketing capital of the world. You think you’ve seen Tebow-Mania before? You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

And that’s what it’s all about.

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